The Bermuda Principles

Permanent URI for this community

From 2010 to 2013, the Duke University Center for Public Genomics, in collaboration with the University of Adelaide, conducted a research project exploring the origins and implications of the “Bermuda Principles” for DNA sequence data sharing. The primary researchers were Kathryn Maxson (now Kathryn Maxson Jones), Duke; Rachel Ankeny, Adelaide; and Robert Cook-Deegan, Duke. This subcommunity contains the research files from that project, which was funded primarily by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) (P50-HG-003391), with supplementary support from the NHGRI (R01-HG-008918), the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and the United States Studies Centre (USSC) of the University of Sydney.

From 1996 through 1998, the leaders of the international Human Genome Project (HGP) from human and model organism genetics developed the Bermuda Principles. The goals of the Principles were project coordination and the rapid, electronic sharing of data for the joint benefits of science and society. The Principles called for the release of all HGP-funded DNA sequences online within twenty-four hours of production. Major agencies supporting the HGP, including the U.S. NHGRI and the British nonprofit The Wellcome Trust, adopted the Principles as HGP grant policies, and since then the Principles have served as paradigms for policies promoting the rapid sharing of data in several research fields, especially in genomics but also including proteomics.

This research resulted in several articles, completed and forthcoming (below). In these publications, Maxson Jones, Ankeny, and Cook-Deegan have consistently argued that the once-radical, but now paradigmatic, Bermuda Principles arose in the HGP directly from norms and strategies first tested within the community of C. elegans researchers in the 1960s and 1970s, and were then championed for human genomics in the 1990s by the leading nematode biologists John Sulston and Robert Waterston. The flexibility of the Principles fostered their translation into science policies. Because they were aspirational and often not interpreted literally, the Principles could readily be accommodated to local scientific and political contexts and deployed for various rhetorical purposes over time. After 2003 and the declared completion of the HGP, this flexibility also fostered the extension of the Principles to further “community resource projects” in biology.

The files provided in this subcommunity were collected or generated during the above research process. They include original interview transcripts, primary documents, and correspondence deemed historically relevant by the research team. All of the items are licensed under CC-BY licenses. In your scholarly and other attributions, use accepted bibliographic conventions and include URL links to all items and/or collections used.

Some items have been embargoed by the authors or providers, and will become available on the dates listed. All items not (or no longer) embargoed are available for download. We have received explicit permission to share all of the items available, under the terms and conditions provided.

Please contact Kathryn Maxson Jones ( with any questions or special requests.

Subcommunity keywords: Bayh-Dole Act, Bermuda Accord, Bermuda meetings, Bermuda Principles, data sharing, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), Department of Energy (DOE), DNA sequence, gene patenting, genetics, genome, genome sequence, genomics, human genetics, Human Genome Project (HGP), International Strategy Meetings on Human Genome Sequencing, National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), science commons, science policy, Wellcome Trust.


Completed and forthcoming publications:

Jenny Reardon, Rachel A. Ankeny, Jenny Bangham, Katherine W. Darling, Stephen Hilgartner, Kathryn Maxson Jones, Beth Shapiro, Hallam Stevens, and The Genomic Open workshop group. "Bermuda 2.0: reflections from Santa Cruz." GigaScience 5(1): 1-4. This article is open access, available here:

Robert Cook-Deegan, Rachel A. Ankeny, and Kathryn Maxson Jones. "Sharing Data to Build a Medical Information Commons: From Bermuda to the Global Alliance." Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics 18(1): 389-415. This article is also open access, and available here:

Kathryn Maxson Jones, Rachel A. Ankeny, and Robert Cook-Deegan. "The Bermuda Triangle: The Pragmatics, Policies, and Principles for Data Sharing in the History of the Human Genome Project." Journal of the History of Biology, forthcoming 2018 (special issue on the Human Genome Project).


Collections in this Community

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3